When The Sun Stood Still

sunrise3Now it came to pass when Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem heard how Joshua had taken Ai and had utterly destroyed it–as he had done to Jericho and its king, so he had done to Ai and its king–and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel and were among them, that they feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, like one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all its men were mighty. Therefore Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem sent to Hoham king of Hebron, Piram king of Jarmuth, Japhia king of Lachish, and Debir king of Eglon, saying, “Come up to me and help me, that we may attack Gibeon, for it has made peace with Joshua and with the children of Israel.” Therefore the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon, gathered together and went up, they and all their armies, and camped before Gibeon and made war against it. And the men of Gibeon sent to Joshua at the camp at Gilgal, saying, “Do not forsake your servants; come up to us quickly, save us and help us, for all the kings of the Amorites who dwell in the mountains have gathered together against us.” So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valor. And the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have delivered them into your hand; not a man of them shall stand before you.” Joshua therefore came upon them suddenly, having marched all night from Gilgal. So the Lord routed them before Israel, killed them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, chased them along the road that goes to Beth Horon, and struck them down as far as Azekah and Makkedah. And it happened, as they fled before Israel and were on the descent of Beth Horon, that the Lord cast down large hailstones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died. There were more who died from the hailstones than the children of Israel killed with the sword. Then Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel: “Sun, stand still over Gibeon; And Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.” So the sun stood still, And the moon stopped, Till the people had revenge Upon their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. And there has been no day like that, before it or after it, that the Lord heeded the voice of a man; for the Lord fought for Israel. Then Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal. (Joshua 10:1-15)

When The Sun Stood Still

The long journey in the wilderness is over. Moses has died and Joshua, his assistant, leads the nation of Israel in the conquest of an area roughly the size of New Jersey. Jericho has fallen in spectacular fashion through the power of God. Ai became a sad lesson on the penalty of disobedience but victory was finally achieved. Gibeon saved itself through crafty deception and was not destroyed. With Jerusalem in the sights of the Hebrews and three great Canaanite cities succumbing to the might of the army of Joshua, the king of Jerusalem bands together with four other kings to stop the Israelite onslaught. Five kings and their armies march on Gibeon to punish the city for making peace with Joshua.

Gibeon sends an urgent message to Joshua to save them and he responds immediately. Marching all night from Gilgal, the people of the Lord rout the army of the five kings in a great slaughter. Promised by the Lord victory was theirs, none were left and the five kings were sealed in a cave waiting their execution. During the day of the great victory against the Amorites, Joshua appeals to the Lord for a remarkable blessing. He implores the Lord to allow the sun and moon to stand still allowing the people to fully execute all those who stood against him. The Lord agrees. There was never a day such as this or a day since where the sun and moon literally remained in place for about a whole day. The story is more amazing that the Lord heeded the voice of a man to carry out His judgment on the enemies of Israel.

When the sun and moon stood still, a power testimony of the grace of God is seen. Like Moses, Joshua was a mighty man of God. His plea was according to the promises of the Lord and the son of Nun implored Him to bring a full annihilation upon the Amorites. Abraham was not given the land of promise because the wickedness of the people was not full. Now the time of judgment came upon the land of Canaan. The Lord heeded the voice of man and there was a great slaughter. Following the execution of the Amorite kings, cities of the Canaanites were destroyed with all the inhabitants killed; none was left remaining.

The day the sun stood still is a reminder of the power of prayer. Consider for a moment what prayer suggests. A man speaks to the Lord God and makes a petition. Through His mercy and grace, God grants the wish and blesses the petitioner his request. He heeds the voice of a man. This does not elevate man but humbles him. Only through the eternal mercy of the Lord is man granted an audience to seek the blessings of God. Because the Son of God has taken away the veil that once kept man at a distance, all men who believe and obey Him can come into His presence and seek blessings. The children of God have the ear of the Father. Prayer is asking the sun to stand still. Not in a literal sense but bowing a knee will drive Satan himself away. That is power. That is might. That is grace.

Brent Hunter said that the problem with most Christians is the spiritual kindergarten they find in their prayer life. The power and force of devoted prayer is lost on the lips of those who are afraid to ask for the ‘sun to stand still.’ Joshua was told the victory would be his. He was fighting against incredible odds. Five kings brought their armies to the fight and when it was all said and done, the people of God had slaughtered every one of them. The power of believing prayer lead Joshua to seek the blessing of God and it was granted by the power of God. The Lord will listen to the voice of a man and woman who fully believe in His promises – and here is why this is such a great story – the Lord will heed the voice of a man. That is a great story.

Rummaging through my father’s papers the other day, I came across this old well-worn statement: “Nothing is ever settled till it is settled right, and nothing is ever settled right till it is settled with God.” God invites us to talk it over: “Come now, and let us reason together.” Isaiah 1:18. (Vance Havner; 1901-1986)

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